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Prepare to be seduced by the mouthwatering succulence of a Greek fast food classic with our chicken souvlaki recipe, and enjoy this marinaded chicken dish with freshly chopped vegetables on a skewer, wrapped in pita, and in plenty of other delicious ways.
You are in for quite the ride with this utterly indulgent chicken souvlaki wrap. Every mouthful delivers a glorious combination of juicy skewered chicken, refreshingly creamy tzatziki, crunchy onion, sweet tomato, and warm, fluffy pita bread. It’s perfect for Greek night, barbecues on the patio, al fresco dining, and so much more!
What is Traditional Souvlaki?
A dish deeply rooted in ancient Greek culture, souvlaki today is one of the country’s most yearned for fast foods. In essence, souvlaki is a dish of grilled skewered meat, traditionally pork but with lamb, chicken, and beef souvlaki also available, especially outside of Greece.
Evidence of skewers held between pairs of stone supports in Greece date back to around 2000 BC, while ceramic ‘souvlaki trays’, which it is believed were placed underneath the skewers, have been traced back as far as the Iron Age. Hence, it’s fair to say that Greeks have been feasting on skewered meat for a long, long time!
You won’t have to wander far in Greece to hear the sizzle of juicy meat over a hot grill, and whether you order the skewer straight off the heat, with grilled vegetables, inside a pita, or with a range of sides (see below), there is no denying the importance this dish has on both Greek cuisine and culture.
Meat – Our recipe calls for chicken, and we recommend using chicken specifically for this recipe. However, as mentioned above, pork is the typical choice in both Greece and Cyprus for souvlaki, with lamb, beef, and other meats like ox also common choices for souvlaki.
Grilled Vegetables – Souvlaki is often eaten as just meat on a skewer, but some places will give you the option to order it with grilled vegetables. These vegetables include the likes of bell peppers, onion, tomato, mushrooms, and plenty of others.
Souvlaki-Pita – We have featured souvlaki-pita in our recipe, which generally consists of souvlaki meat wrapped in a pita bread, with tzatziki sauce, sliced tomatoes, and sliced onions, wrapped in foil or paper to be taken to go. In Greece, you can usually order a side of fried potatoes or fries with it, and some vendors will even put them inside the wrap for you.
While we have stayed true to the classic souvlaki-pita, some regions of Greece, when using chicken, will use lettuce and mustard instead of onion and tzatziki.
Souvlaki-Merida – Meaning ‘souvlaki portion’, souvlaki-merida is more so what you would order in a restaurant, rather than from a food vendor. This dish is essentially a deconstructed souvlaki-pita on a plate, consisting of the souvlaki meat on the skewer, grilled vegetables, tomatoes, onion, fried potatoes or fries, and pita bread.
Kalamaki – For reference, especially in Athens, the word souvlaki can be used as a blanket term for any type of pita wrap. Thus, you may hear the word kalamaki, meaning “small reed,” which is often referring to a skewer, and as an extension, the skewered meat dish we know as souvlaki. This is only in certain parts of Greece, however.
To make our chicken souvlaki, you’ll need the following ingredients:
Note: Makes 12 skewers
For the Chicken
- Chicken Thighs (Boneless and Skinless) or Chicken Breasts – 2 lb (900 grams)
- Olive Oil – 3 tbsp
- Greek Yogurt – 2 tbsp
- Lemon Juice – zest and juice from 1 lemon (3 tbsp)
- Garlic Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Oregano – 1 tbsp
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp
- Pitas – 6
- Tomato – 2-3 tomatoes
- Red Onion – 1 small red onion
- Tzatziki – 1 cup tzatziki (see our homemade tzaziki recipe)
- Bamboo Skewers – 12
Step 1 – Dice the chicken into cubes of about 1 inch.
Step 2 – Add the dried seasonings to the chicken (salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder) and mix.
Step 3 – Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and olive oil and mix well.
Step 4 – Cover with cling film and leave the chicken to marinate for about 25-30 minutes.
Step 5 – Soak the skewers in water.
Step 6 – Thread the chicken on the skewers.
Step 7 – Cook the chicken skewers, preferably on an outdoor grill. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, cook them on a grill pan or a cast iron pan until fully cooked (for about 15-20 minutes on medium-high until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, turning to make sure it’s cooked on all sides). To cook it in the oven, preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and place the chicken skewers on a rimmed baking pan and into the oven until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (about 20 minutes).
Step 8 – Once the meat has been grilled, place the skewers on a plate or sharing platter, ready to serve to your guests.
Chicken thigh souvlaki
Chicken breast souvlaki
Chicken and roasted bell pepper and red onion souvlaki
Step 9 – For the souvlaki pita, chop the onion and tomato.
Step 10 – Warm up the pita (either in a pan or in the oven) for 1-2 minutes. Optionally, drizzle some olive oil on it.
Step 11 – Lay down some foil and place a pita on top. Add a layer of tzatziki sauce, then chicken souvlaki, sliced tomatoes, and sliced red onion on top.
Step 12 – Wrap it up in foil and serve.
Get ready for a juicy, creamy, crunchy, and truly delicious wrap that everyone can enjoy with so many different sides.
The possibilities really are endless with souvlaki, as there are so many sides and additional foods you can enjoy with the grilled meat.
In our recipe, we have covered how to serve souvlaki on the skewer, and as souvlaki-pita, wrapped in pita bread with tzatziki and chopped vegetables. To keep things traditional, here are a few more suggestions for your Greek-themed dinner or gathering.
Fried potatoes – As we spoke about earlier, fried potatoes or fries are often ordered with souvlaki, no matter what style, be it on the skewer, in pita bread, or open-style on a plate.
Tzatziki – Both to spread in your pita and as a side for dipping, while you could get some store-bought tzatziki for your gathering, our creamy tzatziki recipe will give you everything you need to make this beloved Greek dish at home.
Tirokafteri – This popular Greek feta dip, in a similar way to tzatziki, can compliment the pita and meat with its rich, salty flavor and cold, creamy texture.
Olivier Salad – A potato salad, and in Greece, particularly an earthy and creamy chilled Olivier salad, is a favorite go-to side to enjoy with pita, souvlaki meat, chopped vegetables, and fries.
Horiatiki Salad – Green salads are a light, refreshing side to balance the heat and density of the meat, and few salads come more Greek than horiatiki salad, complete with olives and an olive-oil drizzled slab of crumbly feta cheese.
Souvlaki Recipe Card
For the Chicken & Marinade:
- 2 lb (900 grams) chicken thighs (boneless and skinless) or chicken breasts
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
- zest and juice from 1 lemon (~3 tbsp juice)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 6 pitas
- 2-3 large tomatoes
- 1 small red onion
- 1 cup tzatziki
- 12 bamboo skewers
- Dice the chicken into cubes of about 1 inch.
- Add the dried seasonings to the chicken (salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder) and mix.
- Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and olive oil to the chicken, and mix well.
- Cover with cling film and leave the chicken to marinate for about 25-30 minutes.
- Soak the skewers in water while waiting on the chicken to marinate.
- Thread the chicken on the skewers.
- Cook the chicken skewers, preferably on an outdoor grill. If you don't have an outdoor grill, cook them on a grill pan or a cast iron pan until fully cooked (for about 15-20 minutes on medium-high until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, turning to make sure it’s cooked on all sides). To cook it in the oven, preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and place the chicken skewers on a rimmed baking pan and into the oven until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (about 20 minutes).
- Once the chicken has been grilled, place the skewers on a plate or sharing platter, ready to serve to your guests.
- Slice the onions and tomatoes.
- Warm up the pita (either in a pan or in the oven) for 1-2 minutes. Optionally, drizzle some olive oil on it.
- Lay down some foil and place a pita on top. Add a layer of tzatziki sauce, then chicken souvlaki, sliced tomatoes, and sliced red onion on top.
- Wrap it up in foil and serve. Get ready for a juicy, creamy, crunchy, and truly delicious wrap that everyone can enjoy with so many different sides.
For homemade tzatziki sauce, see our tzatziki recipe (which only takes 15 minutes to make).
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